Asbestos is a naturally-found substance that consists of hair-like fibers. Humans have been using it for ages. However, it is in the industrial era that its use really took off. It was an extremely popular material for construction in all kinds of buildings, including mobile homes, because of its insulative and fire-resistant properties.
But since the early 20th century, there has been much concern over its adverse effects on human health, and the material is used far less today. If you are concerned about potential dangers, read this article to find out what you can do about asbestos in old mobile homes.
What’s the problem with asbestos?
Asbestos fibers are not considered harmful unless they become airborne and are ingested or inhaled. This is when asbestos becomes dangerous. And it is most so when it becomes friable, which means it is brittle and crumbles easily.
These fibers can cause harm once they enter your body. The three primary diseases linked to asbestos are mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
Therefore, more than 50 countries have banned the use of this material. The United States is not on this list. Concerned people have made many attempts to change this but have failed.
However, in the 1970s, the government set up agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These organizations drafted regulations that try to limit exposures to asbestos and other toxic pollutants.
That’s why asbestos in old mobile homes is primarily an issue for models that companies constructed before the 1970s.
Finding out if there is asbestos
In case you aren’t sure whether there is asbestos in your mobile home or not, you need to test for it. The best way to find out is to hire a specialist building inspector to test a sample from your home in a lab. Typically, these tests can cost between $100 and $750.
Dealing with the asbestos in old mobile homes
Let’s say the test comes back positive for asbestos. So what do you do now?
There is some controversy over whether it is better to remove existing asbestos in a building or not. The process can be very expensive, especially because the material is often so widespread in a building.
It was often used in the following places (though this isn’t an exhaustive list):
- Ceiling tiles
- Vinyl tile floors
- Basement boilers and pipes
- HVAC duct insulation
- Roof shingles
- Blown-in attic insulation
But even more importantly, the removal process can be incredibly dangerous. Even removing samples for the test is potentially hazardous as it can release some of the fibers into the air.
Therefore, some people recommend that you remove it only once it has already been disturbed or damaged. But this might not be worth the risk, as it becomes more dangerous as it deteriorates over time. If you don’t deal with it now, you’ll probably need to do it sometime in the future.
Professional vs. DIY
Most experts recommend that you hire a professional that has been trained by the EPA to remove asbestos. You can reach out to your local EPA office or health department for these contact details. Professionals will be able to help you make sure that all the asbestos is removed and that it is done correctly. The risk of fibers being released into the air will be far less.
Besides this, professionals will already have the right tools for the job, including all the necessary safety equipment. And, significantly, they can clean any stray fibers up afterward and test the air for any debris.
Usually, experts, including the EPA, strongly discourage people from attempting to remove asbestos themselves even if it is only a small quantity. The risks are just too high.
Currently, there are no federal laws that ban homeowners from DIY removal if they have not gone through training and accreditation.
However, you should be aware that many states, counties, and cities have different regulations regarding self-removal. That’s why you need to contact your local building authorities or health department for more information on your specific situation.
If you do plan on doing it yourself, you also need to research and make sure you follow all the necessary safety requirements.
The precautions for getting rid of asbestos in old mobile homes include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Warn everyone to stay away until after the cleanup. And take away any pets or children.
- Cover up and wear PPE (Personal Protection Equipment).
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke in the work area
- Wash your hands and face and any other exposed body parts with soap and water.
- Don’t use any power tools.
- Wet the asbestos gently with water but do not water blast it or scrub it with a stiff broom or brush.
- Seal off the work area with plastic sheets. And cover the walls, floor, and any furniture.
- Don’t cut, drill, or drop asbestos products.
- Take the proper precautions when disposing of the sheets, including taking them to a specialized landfill site and wrapping and sealing them with plastic.
Asbestos in old mobile homes is a cause of concern for many people. It is one of those problems that you should try to sort out as soon as you can. But there are always more risks. If you want to sleep more soundly, check out these preventative measures that will keep you and your mobile home safe.